Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Form I in Our Home :: 2017-2018 in Review

First: if you would like to know more about what a Form I rotation is, please click over and check out my post from last year! I have links there to several great posts on the topic from other AmblesideOnline moms as well.

This year's Form I rotation involved the same two students as last year: third-grader Cate and second-grader Xavier.  (Next year, Cate will move into Form II and Bridget will join Xavier for a new Form I combo of students!)

Since this rotation started with Cate, this year's selections were mostly from AmblesideOnline's Year 3 readings. I combine everything I can, leaving history and history-related literature separate (which means Xavier was doing history and some literature selections from AmblesideOnline Year 2). They also do math and copywork individually too, based on ability level and at their own pace.

Cate and Xavier are not yet reading their school books on their own, though both of them took off in their reading skills last summer (and I anticipate them reading quite a bit on their own next year :)). With the combination of that and it being a Baby Year, I really needed to find some ways of simplifying my read-aloud schedule. So we did several books on audio this year: This Country of Ours and Our Island Story (via Librivox) for both students was on audio. They follow along in the book and come to me to narrate immediately afterward. For longer chapters, I tell them where to pause the audio, and they come to me to narrate in the middle once or twice.

I read aloud Natural History, Geography, and Literature. Cate and I buddy-read her History Tales, and she read independently a couple of her religion books.

I made very few changes to the AmblesideOnline schedule. I cut Parables from Nature and Trial and Triumph to accommodate our religion readings. I also added religion selections for Cate specifically to highlight the untold Catholic history of the Renaissance and Reformation period. She read the Vision biographies of St. Thomas More and St. Edmund Campion, as well as Crossbows and Crucifixesa free read, and I edited Our Island Story judiciously for bias surrounding this time period. (I still think it's a great book. :))

Religion readings included First Communion prep for Xavier (and Bridget, my kindergartener -- they received together just a couple weeks ago!) and My Path to Heaven for Cate.

They did experiments from The World in a Drop of Water with their Year 6 siblings

We did nature study with our weekly group, which is a joy as always. Cate and Xavier both became fairly proficient with their watercolor kits this year. They also did weekly challenges from The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling with their older siblings (and me!) in Terms 2 and 3. That included activities like making a map of our nature walk, doing some object lessons on wildflowers following the Laws' question prompts, recording a nature event, and other journal-stretching, observation-building exercises.

Handicrafts were time spent with older siblings. Cate learned to sew Felt Wee Folk with Gianna in Term 2 and did that plus beginning embroidery in Term 3. Xavier went through The Art of Chinese Paper Folding and My First Book of Knots with Vincent in Terms 2 and 3, starting with the easiest projects. They also learned quite a bit about baby care. ;)

They both took piano and art weekly all year, and had weekly swim lessons in the spring. Other than that, we had no regular commitments out of the home other than church.

Cate and Xavier are both enthusiastic notebook keepers. Cate really came into her own this year by requesting to do her own writing for her notebooks. I am not requiring written narrations from her yet in Year 3, but she doesn't realize that this is what she was doing! I still wrote narrations for Xavier into his notebooks, and he added his own illustrations and diagrams and such. They enjoyed working together on these keeping exercises, and I love seeing their personalities shine through as I look at their work side by side. They kept a Pagoo notebook (in Term 1-2), a Secrets of the Woods notebook (in Term 2-3), a map for Marco Polo, and a binder timeline.  They also chose to keep a little map for Tall Tales, which I thought was so cute.

she added flaps to the busiest centuries -- LOL

They also loved their Weekly Paintings. (A couple times during the year, they even chose the same subject to memorialize! :))

They worked through RightStart Level C and Level D at their own pace.

Cate began cursive this year using a small workbook for letter formation. She also began a Prose and Poetry book and a Reading Log like her older siblings. Xavier continued working on his printing by copying poetry of his choice with Startwrite pages.

They both wanted checklists even though very little of their work is independent at this point! I obliged because I think the habit is a good one to instill and because it kept our home routines and chores humming along.

Cate wanted hers very detailed -- everything she is responsible for, all in one place, with circles to bubble in "like the Big Kids." I made Xavier's simpler but still comprehensive. Different personalities! :)

And a quick description of their school day:

: Morning Block - First thing in the morning, I spend about 40 minutes between the two of them: about 15 minutes of math and 5 minutes of copywork with one, then the other.

:: Morning Basket - Our family work, including poetry, Bible, and religion.

:: Independent Work (Cate) - Cate does a reading either on her own or on audio right after breakfast, then comes to me to narrate before she heads outside for playtime.

:: Naptime School - I spend the first hour of naptime working with my Form I students.  That usually works out to one reading for my Form I students together, a keeping activity, and then one reading with just my Year 2 student. While I work with Xavier, Cate is usually working on something independently from her checklist or drawing. I bring them back at the end of the second hour of Naptime School to join us for the rest of our family work: Italian, composer study, picture study, rectiation, etc.

:: Afternoon Occupations - This block includes handicrafts since they did that subject with older siblings rather than with me this year. They also do piano practice and art in the afternoons, as well as finishing up chores and optional notebook work. (I'll have a few posts up about their chore routine soon, but you can see prior year's here.)

For more about our Family Subjects, see my write-up of my Year 6 students' work and scroll down. Our family subjects diverge from AmblesideOnline's selections since I am combining for so many children. We are kind of on our own rotation through those. :)


Hope that helps those of you managing multiple early elementary students in your home like we are!


  1. Hi Celeste! Do you have a copy of the your edited OIS schedule? I’m planning for the upcoming school year and was planning to only pre-week a couple of weeks ahead, no for the full year. If you wouldn’t mind sharing those changes, I’d be very greatful! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing Celeste. Inspiring as always!
    What time does your "Morning Block" start?
    Many thanks
    best wishes,

    1. It starts at around 6:45 or 7...We just try to make sure we're done by 8 because that is when I hear narrations from the Big Kids. :)

  3. This is so awesome and helpful. I have kids in years 8, 6, and 2; and it is always helpful to see all the nuts and bolts of how it plays out for others.
    One question--when and how much do your children play with friends outside the family, other than Nature Walks?
    You've inspired me to do my own notebooking more faithfully, begin weekly paintings (which have been a great addition!) and do much more pre-reading. It's all so beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Celeste!
    Incidentally, have you read the Babar books with King Babar and Queen Celeste?

    1. Yes, I have! I always loved seeing my name in a picture book when I was a little girl. :)

      We don't get together with other families on a regular basis much during the school year. We used to attend a weekly park date with our friends, but during this baby year, we took off from that -- and it has actually been lovely to be home all but one day a week! We love these friends (it is our CM homeschool community), but the free time has been wonderful. That said, my children are not yet clamoring for more friend time. They are really happy just being with one another. But I imagine we will get there once they are a bit older. ;) During the summer, we try to meet up with others more often, about one extra time per week.

      Thanks for your encouragement! :)

  4. I noticed Cate has laundry scheduled on every day. Does she help with others laundry? How do you manage laundry in your house?

    1. She puts away laundry in the girls' room every day. My 8yo son does the boys' room, my oldest son the master bedroom, my younger kids the downstairs laundry. Everyone helps fold. My oldest son manages. We do a couple loads a day and it's all put away before bed every night, so we start fresh the next morning. :) I will do a post on this because I'm pretty sure it's the simplest yet most effective routine ever. LOL

    2. I'd love to hear about your laundry routine in more detail. Sometimes it's the simple stuff that makes or breaks you!!

  5. Thank you for sharing! I have a question, about the notebooks. They are so lovely, and I understand their part in a Mason education, but I have not been able to make the leap. After contemplating why, I think I'm going to attribute it to my childhood family culture (otherwise known as blame my parents!). My parents grew up poor, were immigrants, and something like a notebook would have been seen as a superfluous thing - creating something that now needed to occupy shelf space. So when I think about notebooking, I have my dad's and my aunts' voices in my head talking about "more stuff that needs dusting..." Anyways, how can I overcome this!!!! We are already very low on shelf space in our home!

    1. I understand, Karen. This was pretty much my own mindset when I started keeping my own notebooks. Do you keep many notebooks yourself? That was what really adjusted my thinking on this issue. I began to see not just the educational value of the process, but also what it means when we choose to keep something -- we are assigning it VALUE when we give it space, time, and money. We are sending a message to our kids that their work is important. Believe me, this took me a while to get too, and I really think it was my own notebook-keeping that helped with the paradigm shift! :)

    2. Thank you Celeste! I didn't see this reply. I don't keep any. I've never been a journal or diary person. I am really enjoy thinking about how I'd represent my reading visually and through words though. In fact, several weeks into our year, I feel like I'm going to have to start because I can barely contain myself from wanting to notebook through my daughter (if that makes sense). I'm just struggling with time. My husband works long hours away from home, my one reliable babysitter just left for her final two years of college, and I'm really just left with 90 minutes daily for anything including school planning which is hard. I wonder if one entry a week will make much of a difference, especially for modeling (my 9 year old really dislikes journaling [sad face]). I do appreciate your reply though, and I'm going to think about it!

  6. Hi Celeste! I always love reading through these 'reflections on the past year' posts!
    I notice that your children kept a journal for Pagoo and Secrets of the Woods, both nature lore selections. Out of curiousity, what guided your thinking in assigning a nature lore journal vs. a history or geography journal?

    1. Good question, Arenda! In this case, we all love Holling's illustrations in Pagoo, so it seemed like a natural one to use. And then Secrets of the Woods takes its place for the second half of the year, so we just continued a notebook in that area. For history, my children are in different years, and I wanted this notebook to be something they would do together. They also kept a Marco Polo map, so that "counted" as our geography component. Hope that makes sense.

    2. Totally makes sense! Thanks. :)

  7. Hi Celeste - I actually came to comment to inquire what you use for audio books for your early elementary students? I would like my students to have something they can use on their own, meaning they can select the chapter or pages without my help. But I don't want anything remotely resembling a phone (so no disabled iPhone) or stripped down Kindle and we don't use Alexa. I am thinking maybe a plain old mp3 player, but not sure how I'd use Libravox, Audible, etc. What works for your home? Thank you!

    1. I am no help on this -- I have a tablet for school use, but I have to start it for the child who is going to listen because I like to stream from online resources like Librivox, Overdrive, and Audible. I know other moms use an iPod or other mp3 player, but I suppose you would have to load the files by connecting to your computer to have them ready to go in that case. Let me know if you find anything! :)